When working toward all-encompassing and effective marketing and communication tactics, organizations are moving away from traditional advertising techniques alone. Social media marketing is having a positive impact on almost all industries. However, for medical professionals, knowing where to begin can be confusing. There is a misconception that medical social media marketing is more challenging for those in the healthcare industry. The reality is that small private practices and big hospitals alike are successfully using social media.
Social media allows individuals and businesses to stay connected. It is an effective way to increase awareness of and market new products or services that may benefit patient health. The impact of properly executed medical social media marketing can build and maintain patient loyalty as well as attract new patients. As social media sites evolve, they become ever more efficient mediums for reaching out to consumers. For that reason, healthcare professionals must find new and effective ways to utilize social media.
Shifting to Medical Social Media Marketing
Consumers have become heavily reliant on information found online. They use the internet as their first source of information gathering; healthcare is no exception. Patients turn to social media as a way to connect with other patients, find support networks, and learn about similar conditions. They also use it to look for resources and gather information about, and share, experiences with healthcare providers, other patients, and related organizations. This is why medical social media marketing should be an important facet for those in the medical profession.
Even in their search for doctors, specialists and hospitals, social media is viewed by patients as a resource that can help them make informed decisions about the best options in medical care. Positive reviews or other comments can support your practice’s patient growth. That said, negative feedback or comments can deter future patients from choosing a practice in the future. Without being active on social media, providing accurate information, connecting with readers and patients, and implementing marketing techniques, you cannot have control over your online presence.
The Master of Health Administration conducted a survey analyzing social media and healthcare. The results are worth noting:
- Approximately 27 percent of Facebook users openly talk about their healthcare experiences with those connected to their account like friends and family. They also update people on their health and any issues they are experiencing.
- 60 percent of users are more likely to find information published by a doctor on social media reliable, and information posted by nurses or hospitals reliable at about 56 and 55 percent, respectively.
- Facebook and Foursquare were the most popular social media outlets used by the 1,501 hospitals surveyed.
Getting Medical Social Media Marketing Right
Healthcare providers have a huge advantage over almost every other industry when it comes to medical social media marketing. Healthcare services are essentially a human necessity rather than something that is being pushed or sold to consumers as useful. Your online presence, or lack thereof, is a key component of how current and prospective patients will perceive your practice. It is for that reason you should aim to market your practice as a trusted medical authority and patient-centered top provider.
One of the most prevalent players in healthcare medical social media marketing is the Mayo Clinic. They have managed to strengthen their branding, further establish themselves as an authority, hugely engage patients, and demonstrate the strength of active social media management. Massachusetts General Hospital is another shining example. They understand the importance of creating useful content for patients. They strategically distribute that content on social media outlets and even created an app to further patient interaction.
Ways to Use Social Media
Pew Research conducted a study that showed that 36 percent of Americans haven’t seen a doctor within the past year. Medical social media marketing is a way to reach patients and encourage them to be proactive in their healthcare. It is intended to provide patients with the ability to access information quickly and communicate with other patients and their doctors. Some of the ways your practice can use social media include:
The abovementioned study noted that 87 percent of people highly regard doctors and their opinions. They expect doctors to be a source of information about their health. Social media gives you the chance to fulfill that responsibility in an impactful way. Moreover, the unfortunate phenomenon of self-diagnosis, where Google plays virtual doctor, is indicative of a need for a legitimate online medical presence.
Doctors can notify patients of:
- Updates on new technologies
- New team members at the practice
- News regarding outbreaks or health hazards
- Health tips
- Generic pre- and post-operative care information
- Updates about your practice
- Other health-related news
Raising Patient Comfort and Confidence
Many people have concerns or fears about going to the doctor. Even simple visits like checkups can be a source of anxiety. People with more serious medical concerns are even more prone to seek medical professionals who are empathetic and knowledgeable. Placing a ‘human face’ on your practice goes a long way.
One option is the posting of inspirational content. Persons suffering from terminal illnesses, like cancer, often benefit from inspiration and motivation. However, all patients are encouraged by such stories. Inspirational posts are commonly shared the most.
Also, behind-the-scenes content is valuable. It allows patients to have a greater view of you and your staff as people and professionals. Highlighting ‘fun’ events, taking advantage of holidays, and sharing other moments is a wise strategy.
Identifying Yourself as a Community Staple
In the medical sector, talk of competition is a dicey subject. Nevertheless, there are often many medical providers in a community. It is natural for patients to compare providers before picking one. With that in consideration, it makes sense for healthcare providers to represent their practices as a preferable choice in their communities. If you or your employees are involved in local advocacy efforts or other unique community-centered activities, they can be shared. Transparency and a personable persona go a long way with prospective patients.
Controlling Your Practice’s Reputation
Other than publishing content, there is one aspect of social media that must be addressed: reputation management. Social media content can work for you, but every post and opinion won’t be positive. That said, negative reviews or commentary are nothing to shy away from. Responding timely to such comments, and gracefully addressing them, goes a long way. Patients like the idea of responsiveness from their healthcare provider, and you can temper the effects of negative feedback with a calculated and caring response.
It is important to ensure you avoid all violations while engaging in medical social medical marketing. There are ways to ensure your staff does not forget about the need to stay compliant with HIPAA while engaging on social media. Some tactics to enforce compliance include:
- Having clear social networking policies for your employees
- Avoiding even general discussion of specific patients
- Using general verbiage when discussing conditions and treatments
- Posting your policies and procedures on your social media platforms prominently
- Responding to personal patient concerns offline
While it is arguable that healthcare marketers have a unique set of challenges and barriers when navigating social media, many providers are successfully doing it. There are countless opportunities for public education, community building, and gaining new patients.
It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to be able to reach your patients and make their experience personalized, direct, and sincere. Social media is an integral part of consumer interaction for all industries. The medical field is no exception. Patients are looking for medical information and advice online. It is important to meet them where they are, ready to provide your own source of knowledge, and able to offer the services of your practice. The stability and growth of your practice is rooted in moving forward with the times.
To get started with medical social media marketing, get in touch with our team at Crystal Clear Digital Marketing. Our goal is to help your practice find, serve, and keep more patients profitably. Contact us today to speak with one of our staff members!